Min. Lindiwe Zulu to foreigners: "Share your ideas with local business owners"

Photo: Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu. EWN/File.

Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu has some advice for foreign shop owners following the violent attacks in Soweto last week, where residents looted shops owned predominantly by foreigners after 14 year-old, Siphiwe Mahoyi was allegedly killed by a Somali shop owner.

Foreigners need to understand that they are here as a courtesy and our priority is to the people of this country first and foremost. A platform is needed for business owners to communicate and share ideas. They cannot barricade themselves in and not share their practices with local business owners.

Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu - quoted in Business Day

Anticipating a mixed response to the suggestion, 702's Xolani Gwala invited the Minister onto his show, giving her the opportunity to explain the context within which she made these comments.

Zulu responded that foreign nationals living within our communities must understand the environment they live in.

We cannot take away the historical background that I was referring to, that a majority of black South Africans were left out from participating in the economy of the country and therefore the experience that was spoken about earlier, that the foreign nationals have is an experience that most South Africans don't have.

Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu

Speaking to the issue of xenophobia in South Africa, Zulu explained that government has never lost sight of the issue of xenophobia and has been working on implementing a strategy to deal with xenophobia since the first wave of xenophobic attacks in 2008.

Remember that this incident happened because there was an incident in a foreign owned shop. It's not like the community of Soweto just woke up and decided that they were going to generally loot foreign owned shops. A young man lost his life, and that's what sparked what we see today.

Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu

There remain questions about whether the recommendations of the Ministerial Task Team set up in 2008 were ever implemented. Loren Landau, Director of the Forced Migration Studies Programme at Wits spoke to 702's John Robbie about this... and while there were also task teams from Human Rights Commission and the Department of Justice, he recalled how that specific task team found that the attacks were a law an order issue. Furthermore, they found that there weren't broader social or economic issues that needed to be addressed.

There is definitely more to it. We can't say that xenophobia is causing this alone, but the xenophobic attitudes are enabling a lot of other actions to take place which are driven by criminality, economic competition, a quest for localised political power. But by only seeing this as a criminal act we are making all of those factors more or less invisible.

Prof Loren Landau, Forced Migration Studies Programme at Wits

Meanwhile, tensions remain raised in Langlaagte following the fatal shooting of two alleged looters by a foreign shop owner. Police are under pressure from the community to arrest the man who shot dead two people on Sunday night.

Last week Xolani spoke to Gauteng MEC for Economic Development, Lebogang Maile who expressed concern about the situation in Soweto explaining that the unrest is due to a "myriad of problems and there will not be a quick fix solution".

What we haven't seen is any deep investigation into the criminal aspects of this, or any effort to try and hold those behind, who are organising this, accountable. Instread we just arrest the people we catch on the street.

Prof Loren Landau, Forced Migration Studies Programme at Wits

Listen to Loren Landau's chat with John Robbie here...

Zulu confirmed that the latest inter-ministerial task team was looking not only at helping local small business owners access information to upskill and run their own businesses but at what other factors led to the violence and looting in Soweto.

Listen to Xolani's entire conversation with the Minister here:


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